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Library and Information Science Paper (ID LIS064001)

Gender in Historical Research on American Public Libraries
No.64, p.1-31
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Purpose: This study focuses on gender as a critical aspect of librarianship and examines the framework of critical research through analysis of the historical writings on women in librarianship. It was in the 1970s that Michael H. Harris presented his critical view on libraries as democratic institutes. Since then, new historical research on the American public library has been developed through critical perspectives based on Harris’revisionist interpretation. This critical research reexamines the subjects of research from specific aspects such as class, gender, and minority, and attempts to reconstruct them.

Methods: This study used a survey of existing research on library women’history in historical research on American public libraries to position gender research within the stream of critical research on public libraries. The considerable impact of the concept of gender included in previous work was also examined.

Results: Analysis clearly shows that the structural outline that places female librarians, female supporters and female users of public libraries in contraposition to male librarians on library practices presents possibilities for research on public librarianship. This composition provides a new framework for an approach to existing research that is biased by a dominant point of view. Finally, the findings indicate that the focus on the concept of gender in historical research on public libraries leads to reconsideration of the cultural mainstream and cultural margin. The results suggest ways to reexamine the structure of the cultural politics related to librarianship.

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